For the third year in a row, Mass Mentoring Partnership is honored to be an official charity partner of the B.A.A. Boston Marathon® on April 15. We want you to meet our amazing runners. Let’s go Team MMP!
Runner: Alex Brown
Most recent marathon: Rose Bowl Marathon
Favorite song to listen to while running: Something about the drums in most of Animal Collective’s music works great to pick up pace when I’ve been dogging it. Two songs that have made it through the constant and strenuous playlist vetting process are on the extreme ends of the spectrum. The first is Toots and the Maytals doing “Louie, Louie.” I don’t particularly love reggae, but that song always puts me in a mood and rhythm My second must-have song is Fugazi’s “Waiting Room.” You know, you gotta get a little pumped up too. LCD Soundsytem. Pretty much anything James Murphy/they do is great for longer runs. I could do this question all day. Maybe I’m just jogging so I can listen to music…
Favorite post-run snack: Rotisserie chicken. Lots, and lots of rotisserie chicken.
- What inspired you to run the 2013 Boston Marathon for MMP? It was a perfect culmination of personal goals. I needed to lose weight so I started running. I played college football but had really let my health slip since I stopped playing. My grandfather died last April, which was troubling in general…as deaths usually are. What really hit me though was the adverse conditions my grandfather had to live under the last decade of his life due to being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle. It was a real catalyst for me to join a gym and change my lifestyle. Over the next three months I lost about thirteen pounds (not that I was counting each one or anything). One of the producers on the TV show I work on was telling me about her workout routine. She jogs for forty-five minutes three times a week. Not being one to step down from a challenge, I jogged for forty-five minutes that night. I did almost four miles, and more importantly, I had a crazy sense of fulfillment. I went home right after my first run and signed up for a half marathon that was three months out. From the point of my grandfather dying to the morning of my first half marathon, I lost thirty pounds. While I was, and sadly still am, overweight, there is a fire and drive inside of me that I feel like running ignited. I was on the phone with my parents right after finishing my first official half marathon, and I told them that afternoon, I am going to finish the Boston Marathon this year. Why? Why a full marathon? Why the Boston Marathon? The answer for me is simple. Set your goals out of your comfort zone, and if you have dedication, drive, and an intense focus, you can accomplish things you never imagined possible for yourself. To run a marathon, to even have that idea, would be and was comical for most people when I told them. To pick the most prestigious marathon in the country, widely considered to be one of the most difficult, well that’s just lunacy. My inspiration? I could rattle off a list: Health. Raising money for a great cause. Proving others wrong. Proving myself wrong. Most importantly, my inspiration is the concrete proof that there will be triumph over any obstacle as long as there is extreme dedication and focus and your motives and drive are pure.
- What has been the most rewarding experience of your training and/or fundraising so far? I can answer this one a lot more succinctly than the last. The most rewarding part of this entire endeavor is telling someone I WILL be finishing the Boston Marathon this year, and knowing that’s fact.
- What is your experience with mentoring? I have both received and given extensive mentoring as an Eagle Scout. I think the most rewarding mentor relationship I had came from when I played football in college. Being from Texas, it was rare that I had family able to come up and watch my games in New York, but I didn’t want to waste the four tickets I was allocated to give out for each game. One day I was getting my hair cut and the topic of me playing for Fordham got out. My barber looked shocked, and said his son had always wanted to go to a game, but never had the funds to make it to one. Mind you, the year prior had gone 2-9, and we had lost our first three games of this year, but Fordham stood as such a bright spot in the community this kid just wanted a brief glimpse into this alternate universe. I went to our front office to ask for tickets, and our head coach, Tom Masella happened to be standing a few feet away. He asked who I was getting tickets for, and when I told him the whole story, he made sure they were for the whole season and would be very decent tickets, too. And so it was, for all of our games, and inevitable losses, that season, I had a two person cheering section. Falcon (my barber whose real name I never learned. To this day I hope it actually was Falcon) and his son Diego came to every home game and two away games. I had a girlfriend who didn’t even come to half that many games. The most rewarding part would come after the games. Falcon would usually go walk around the campus, and Diego would come out onto the field and catch footballs from our quarterback, get to do offensive drills with a couple of the linemen. It was simple, yeah, but he always seemed so elated. It also provided a moment each week when he got to see a life outside of the rough parts of the Bronx where he was raised and got to glimpse into the lives of people who were dedicated to a craft and a life of dedication and hard work. Selfishly though, Falcon and Diego were my inspiration. I was three thousand miles away from home, and these two relative strangers were my biggest fans. They were just so happy to have a couple of hours of entertainment each week, but in between series I would get a pep talk from Diego and Falcon. At the end of the season Falcon and Diego thanked me and were very humbled by the fact they couldn’t repay me at all. What’s weird is by that point, I genuinely believe it was me who owed them. Their dedication and enthusiasm was probably the single most fulfilling thing I encountered in college. And that’s my view on mentoring. It’s so rewarding that in the end you genuinely don’t know who is teaching who.
- What do you think is the most important thing a mentor can do for a child? Be there. It might be a gross oversimplification, but I have found that most children just need someone, a person, to be there. Life is rough at all stages, but as long as there is someone to go through it and hang out with, even if that just means building a Lego tower, that time and interpersonal connection is not a want, it is a need. Most bad behavior is a direct result of wanting to elicit a reaction from others due to neglect.
- What is the best piece of advice a mentor can give? Whew. This is a tough one. If there is one piece of advice that I hold true is that it, life, goes on. You have to realize very early that in any walk of life, things won’t go your way. You go day to day, but you always remember that life goes on. Focus on the moment, but don’t get wrapped up in failure, because doing that will make you miss your next moment to succeed. It sounds a little new-agey or maybe even sappy, but I predicate most of my beliefs around this, so it’s my most base ideology.
- Complete this sentence: When I finish the Marathon, I will feel…sore AND very proud to have finished such an outlandish goal in such a short amount of time.
If you would like to read more about Alex or make a donation to his fundraising, please visit http://www.razoo.com/story/You-Know-For-Kids